What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes skin cells to grow too quickly sometimes up to 10 times faster than normal skin cells. The condition results in thick, white or red patches of skin. Normal skin flakes off as new skin grows underneath and emerges, however, with psoriasis, new skin moves to the surface too rapidly for the old skin to have time to complete its life cycle and flake away. Patches of psoriasis range from small to large and can appear on any part of the body, although it is most common on the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet, or lower back. It is more common in adults, but psoriasis affects people of all ages.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
There are several types of psoriasis that present varying symptoms but the most common symptoms include red patches of skin that are covered with loose white scales or plaques. These patches vary in size, location, and severity. Itching is another common symptom as the psoriatic patches can appear in very sensitive areas like the scalp or underneath the breasts and soles of the feet. Symptoms are usually agitated in colder climates or winter months. Although there is no cure for psoriasis, there are many treatment options to ease its symptoms. There is also no concern for spreading as psoriasis is not contagious.
What Causes Psoriasis?
There are a variety of factors that contribute to psoriasis but the immune system plays the greatest role. When the immune system overreacts, it causes an abnormal trigger of inflammation in the skin. This results in burning or itchy patches of flaky skin. Psoriasis can also be caused by a specific genetic makeup, which is often inherited. Patients with psoriasis often have one or more family members with the condition as well. Factors such as stress, cold weather, strep throat, certain medications, and skin injuries (scratch or sunburn) can lead to a flare-up of psoriasis. At times psoriasis can be mild, severe, or you could experience periods of remission.
Types of Psoriasis
There are several different forms of psoriasis including:
- Plaque psoriasis (most common)
- Pustular psoriasis
- Guttate psoriasis
- Inverse psoriasis
- Erythrodermic psoriasis or exfoliative psoriasis
Treatment for Psoriasis
Flare-ups for psoriasis can last for weeks or months, so it’s important to seek professional treatment to help manage and ease symptoms. At Max Adler Dermatology, we offer several treatment methods that are often very effective in soothing psoriasis. During your initial consultation, one of our providers will examine your condition to determine which approach is best for you. Mild cases are usually treated with topical ointments but more severe cases may require local injections of steroids or oral medications.
In most cases, diagnosis of psoriasis is fairly straightforward.
- Physical exam and medical history. Your doctor usually can diagnose psoriasis by taking your medical history and examining your skin, scalp and nails.
- Skin biopsy. Rarely, your doctor may take a small sample of skin (biopsy). He or she will likely first apply a local anesthetic. The sample is examined under a microscope to determine the exact type of psoriasis and to rule out other disorders.
Psoriasis can be treated by a number of options with Dr. Adler. In most instances it can be treated with topical corticosteroids, oral medications and injections. Psoriasis may also be treated using a form of light therapy. Everyone may vary on treatment availability, but Dr. Adler will assess the correct form of treatment for you.
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